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‘Cruelty free’ leather firm weighs LI, NJ offers to expand

Co-founder and Modern Meadow CEO Andras Forgacs at

Co-founder and Modern Meadow CEO Andras Forgacs at the TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 at Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on May 11, 2016. Credit: Getty Images for TechCrunch / Noam Galai

The competition intensified Thursday between Long Island and New Jersey to become home to facilities for a biotechnology company that makes “cruelty-free” leather without killing animals.

Modern Meadow Inc., a startup company now based in Brooklyn, is seeking a location to open a research laboratory and factory.

The company would receive up to $32 million from New Jersey over 10 years if it expands in Nutley, according to documents from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.

The authority’s board of directors approved the tax credits at a meeting yesterday, its spokeswoman said.

Modern Meadow also has been offered incentives from New York State to expand in Suffolk County.

Last year, the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council endorsed the company’s proposal for an R&D lab and factory of about 70,000 square feet at the Broad Hollow Bioscience Park on the campus of Farmingdale State College.

The New York Power Authority awarded 1,050 kilowatts of low-cost electricity to Modern Meadow. In return, the company would move 40 jobs from Brooklyn to Farmingdale, add 160 more and invest $25 million in equipment and other improvements, according to its aid application.

Empire State Development, the state’s primary business-aid agency, has offered $1 million toward the project.

“We are working closely with Modern Meadow in our efforts to bring this exciting project to Long Island,” ESD press secretary Amy Varghese said Thursday.

Winning the Modern Meadow facility would boost Long Island’s drive to develop its biotechnology industry and an economy built around inventions from research institutions such as Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and Stony Brook University.

The 6-year-old company employs a process called biofabrication to create leather, CEO Andras Forgacs said a year ago in Melville. The company uses “living cells to grow nature’s materials,” using “a process entirely free of animals,” according its website.

Modern Meadow spokeswoman Natalia Krasnodebska said Thursday it hasn’t yet decided where to expand. However, she said the company will continue to have an office in Brooklyn.

“We are delighted to have proposals both from New York and New Jersey, and are now weighing our options to expand,” she said. “We expect to be making a decision soon.”

In New Jersey, the company proposes to rent 119,327 square feet in the former U.S. headquarters of drugmaker Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc. and to invest $20.8 million in equipment and building improvements. It has pledged to create 263 jobs in the Garden State, according to documents from the development authority.

“The location analysis submitted to the authority shows New Jersey to be the more expensive option” compared with Farmingdale, the documents state. “As a result, the management of Modern Meadow Inc. has indicated that the grant of tax credits [from New Jersey] is a material factor in the company’s location decision.”

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